My daughter and my son-in-law’s sister, who is visiting from Japan, came over for dinner. We went to the grocery store and bought ingredients for Japanese hanbagu. It’s hard to describe what that is except to say it has hamburger meat in it, which is like saying a ’76 Margaux has grapes in it.
Cassady and Yuri-chan are very good cooks by which I mean that they make good food quickly and clean up as they go while chattering and laughing. It was a good dinner by which I mean that someone made it for me and the ingredients to feed five hungry people cost $27.17.
Afterwards I asked if they wanted to go get ice cream and everyone said yes so we walked down the hill to Yummy Yogurt, which was closed, then back up the hill to the CVS Pharmacy. In the back of the store they have a tiny shop called Thrifty Ice Cream. It’s pretty tasty (stick to chocolate) and only costs a buck-seventy-nine for one very big scoop.
My son Hans didn’t want ice cream. He was meeting up with some friends so he had gone off into the grocery section of the pharmacy to get a 12-pack of beer. Everyone else was still getting ice cream so as I walked towards the exit I joked with him while he stood in line. It was a long line of about fifteen people and there was only one cashier.
Just outside the front door I leaned against a post and started eating my ice cream. I glanced inside and saw that my daughter, Yuri-chan, and my youngest son Woodrow were also standing in line behind Hans, each with some item for purchase where “item” means Kit-Kats. They were talking and eating their ice cream as even more people added to the queue and the lone cashier tried to ring up the impatient people.
I went back to my ice cream.
Then suddenly, “Dad!” I glanced inside and Hans was beckoning me as he stood at the register. I went in, straight to the head of the line.
The cashier had a very stern and suspicious and angry look on her face. “He can’t buy this beer,” she snapped.
“Forget your ID card?” I asked Hans.
“No,” he said. “She just won’t accept it.”
My son Hans is real smart. He graduated from Penn in three years, speaks several languages, and has one of those minds that moves a lot quicker than most. But he must not be all that smart because at twenty-two he still doesn’t have a driver license because he went to the wrong DMV office for his test appointment once and failed the actual driving exam twice.
Judging from all the terrible drivers on the road I’ve always wondered how terrifically terrible you have to be to actually fail the license exam, and now I know.
Everyone in the family appreciated his flunking the bonehead driving test three times because whenever we get in an argument about something we can say, “You might have an Ivy League degree but you still don’t have a driving license.” His little brother Woodrow uses this line to great effect.
What this means is that in addition to an intimate familiarity with Uber, instead of a driver license he uses a DMV-issued identity card to buy the beer he occasionally drinks, and the CVC cashier had never seen one and thought it was fake.
“So why can’t he buy the beer?” I asked the lady.
“Because he’s not 21 and this driving license is fake.”
“It’s not fake and it’s not a driving license,” I said. “It’s an I.D. card issued by the DMV.”
“I saw you talking with him before you went outside. He’s buying the beer for you and that’s illegal. Let me see your I.D.”
Of course I didn’t have my I.D. with me, but I did have my graying hair, my graying beard, my wrinkled face, and the other indicia of seniority that anyone, even a CVS cashier, would recognize as making me multiples of 21. “Lady,” I said, “I don’t have my I.D. with me, but he’s my son. And I’m almost old enough to be your dad, too.”
This was met with even more scorn. Hans takes after his Japanese grandfather a lot, I’m told, and doesn’t look much like me. “What’s his birthday?” she snapped, looking at the card.”
I rattled it off.
“What’s his address?”
I rattled that off, and she smiled with glee. “That’s not what it says here!”
Hans piped up as the crowd enjoyed the show. “It has our old address on it,” he prompted me, but of course I couldn’t remember the street name.
“Lady,” I said, “you know it’s not illegal for him to buy me beer if that’s what you think he’s doing. I’m his dad and no cop in the world is going to say I’m under 21.”
“But maybe you’re trying to buy it for him!” she snapped.
“I was standing outside eating a cup of ice cream.”
“That’s so I wouldn’t be suspicious. I saw you two talking!”
“Suspicious of what? It’s perfectly legal for one adult to buy beer for another if that’s what you think he’s doing.”
“Then you pay for the beer,” she said.
“I don’t drink and I’m not buying anyone any beer.”
“Ah-hah! So he is trying to buy you beer!”
Suddenly I realized that we could fix the problem if Cassady bought the beer. “Hey honey,” I said, “do you have your driver license?”
The cashier’s eyes popped out. “So you’re all here together?”
“Yes,” I said. “Is that against the law here, too?”
“Oh,” she said, “so you’re a family?”
“Yes,” I said, “out getting some ice cream.”
“And beer. You’re also trying to buy beer. Where’s HER driver license?”
“You mean for the ice cream and the Kit-Kat?” I asked.
“I didn’t bring my license,” Cassady said as my son-in-law’s sister stood there amazed at the show. Apparently in Japan beer buying isn’t quite as dramatic as it is up here on the hill.
“Why not?” asked the cashier.
“Because we fucking walked here and we don’t need a fucking driving license to walk, even in PV.” Now I was getting hot. I turned to the crowd, which was now about twenty-five people strong. “This is my family,” I said, “and that’s my 22-year-old son trying to buy beer with a valid DMV-issued license, and that’s my 27-year-old daughter who’s pregnant and I’m a few weeks away from being a fucking grandfather and this lady won’t sell my son beer because I don’t have an I.D. Raise your hand if you think she’s nuts.”
A smattering of hands went up, and people began laughing as the manager ran up. “What’s going on?” he asked sternly.
“You stay the fuck out of this,” I said, “we’re voting on a beer purchase.” He stood back. “Everyone who thinks that’s my son and that he’s twenty-one and that I’m about to be a grandpa and that he should be allowed to buy beer and that I shouldn’t have to buy it because I’m a drunk who’s trying to stay sober, raise your hand!”
Now all the hands went up. I turned to the cashier.
“Sell the fucking beer, please,” I said.
And she did.
Top that shit, Sherri.
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